The federal government announced that the public health emergency (PHE) will end on May 11th. The PHE’s continuous Medicaid coverage requirement, however, will be decoupled from the PHE declaration starting on April 1st, meaning that’s when states can begin conducting Medicaid eligibility redeterminations.
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With these redeterminations on the horizon, health coverage providers like Amerigroup Washington are working to help Washingtonians retain their benefits.
The Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) added almost 400,000 people to Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. But many may need to transition to other coverage options if they are determined to be ineligible for the state’s program following the redetermination process once the PHE ends.
Amerigroup Washington President and CEO Anthony Woods told State of Reform the organization has been working closely with the HCA to update customer information to help them retain coverage, make sure customers are aware of any modifications they need to make, and provide needed guidance.
“Everybody’s needs will be different,” Woods said. “The exchange of information will be critical, and the HCA has the keys to the kingdom on that. So utilizing [the HCA] around data is key. We’ve been having frequent meetings one or two times a month where our leadership and HCA are coming together. It’s been a pretty fluid process.”
Amerigroup Washington has been utilizing its Ready, Set, Renew program to help Washingtonians renew their Medicaid coverage, and to roll out some initiatives to give members access to resources.
Amerigroup expects around 29,000 customers to be impacted by redeterminations.
“We’re helping them with understanding redeterminations, as enrolling can be very complex,” Woods said.
Customers will also be able to use a new AI-based Health Compass program that will launch on Feb. 6th.
“It’s an intelligent micro-site that gets a person through the eligibility process,” Woods said. “It tells them whether they qualify for Medicaid or a commercial health plan. We have a plethora of commercial plans, so they have a choice. This site also helps members understand other state and federal benefits they might be eligible for. I’m talking about non-clinical things, like food programs, and other opportunities to explore. It has a national footprint.”
Health Compass will be an innovative decision support tool that will drive awareness and help members and consumers find information on the state’s Medicaid plan or enroll in alternate health plan options if they are no longer eligible for Medicaid. Health Compass also identifies public programs including food, housing, and financial benefits that the consumer may be eligible for based on how they answer questions within the tool.
Amerigroup Washington has also been busy preparing staff for the impact of the end of the PHE.
“We’re readying our staff to answer questions, and making sure we’re ready to educate members,” Woods said.
The organization is focused on overcoming any language barriers that might come up.
“Amerigroup has a great team of navigators that speak more than one language and can meet people where they’re at,” Woods said. “It’s a multi-pronged approach to consider the whole person. It’s part of our commitment to being a lifetime trusted health partner.”